BYJU’S – RISE AND FALL?

Byju’s began in 2011 as Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd. Byju's continued to pour money into advertising and marketing and failed to keep track of finances even after kids returned to school.
BYJU’S – RISE AND FALL?

Byju’s began in 2011 as Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd by Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath. Byju was a professional engineer who tutored children in mathematics and founded an internet video company. The firm soon expanded into one of the world's largest Ed-tech companies and one of India's top five most-valued private internet enterprises. Byju's: The Learning App was released in August 2015 and in 2017, they released the Byju's Math App for Kids as well as the Byju's Parent Connect app. By 2018, it had 15 million users, with 900,000 of them being paying subscribers. Byju's became India's first Ed-tech unicorn the same year.  By 2019, 60% of BYJU students were from non-metropolitan and rural areas.

 The Rise:

The tremendous rise of Byju's occurred during the pandemic time, when most students were confined to their homes and were unable to attend school, and Byju's appeared as a light of hope. Also, Byju’s got considerable contributions from a variety of investors during this time period like Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital India, Bond Capital, Silver Lake, BlackRock, Sands Capital Management, Alkeon Capital Management, Sofina, Verlinvest, Tencent, Prosus (previously Naspers Ventures), CPPIB, General Atlantic and many more.

Expansion, acquisition and Ambassadors :

In order to grow their business, they made substantial acquisitions worth million dollars.

List of company acquisitions by Byju’s -

1. Great Learning Pvt. Ltd. - In July 2021, BYJU’S acquired Great Learning Pvt. Ltd.  for $600 million.

2. Epic! - In July 2021, BYJU’S acquired Epic! for $500 million.

3. Aakash Educational Services Ltd. - In April 2021, BYJU’S acquired Aakash Educational Services Ltd. (AESL).  For 950 million dollars.

4. WhiteHat Jr. – BYJU's bought WhiteHat Jr. for $300 million in July 2020.

5. Osmo - BYJU'S paid $120 million for US-based Osmo in January 2019.

6. TutorVista, Edurite from Pearson – In July 201, a U.S.A based online tutoring brand.

Apart from all the acquisitions the company invested a lot on marketing. They attempted to the market by bringing in the finest of the best in their respective industries.

On a worldwide scale, Football Legend Lionel Messi and Shahrukh Khan serves as a brand ambassador for Byju's. In sports, the business signed Virat Kohli and Sania Nehwal. The great minds of Byju came up with the notion of bringing prominent people from local states on board. For Kerala crowd, they decided to go with the superstar face that is Mohanlal also for telugu target audience the face is Superstar Mahesh Babu, a well known face in industry.

 It also stepped up its marketing efforts by sponsoring the Indian cricket team and the FIFA World Cup costing about $30–40 million. 

The Downfall:

Byju's continued to pour money into advertising and marketing and failed to keep track of finances even after kids returned to school. The first signs of problems appeared in 2021, when the company reported 327 million dollar deficit, since this huge loss company’s downfall started.

Reasons:

1.     Complaints by parents:

 The first to file concerns were parents of youngsters who had purchased Byju's courses and tabs. They complained about overpriced courses, "trapping" buyers with exaggerated claims, other unethical practices, defective tabs, teachers not answering calls or responding to emails, and so on, and the negative word about the company spread like wildfire.

2.     Financial Crisis:

Lenders leveled serious charges against the company, accusing it of hiding a large sum of $500 million by transferring money out of the business account, which is when the difficulties began. Lenders unexpectedly exited the process of restructuring existing debts totaling $1.2 billion.

Byju's also encountered delays in completing essential financial statements, which led to the growing concerns. These records are critical for identifying the company's financial soundness and assisting lenders in assessing credit risk. The delay generated criticism and exacerbated Byju's issues. Byju's experienced another financial setback when a $40 million interest payment on a debt that lenders were seeking to modify come due, worsening the situation.

3.     Unexpected resignation of Deloitte:

Deloitte Haskins & Sells, the global accounting firm, has resigned as Byju's auditor because of delays in     the financial statements for fiscal years 2021-22 and the settlement of amendments in the audit report for fiscal years 2020-2021.

4.     Stepping down of board members:

Peak XV Partners' GV Ravishankar (previously Sequoia India and Southeast Asia), Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's Vivian Wu, and Prosus' Russell Dreisenstock have all stepped down from the board. Disagreements with management are said to be the reason for their resignation. According to reports, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has launched an investigation after resignation of the 3 crucial directors of the company. And according to the ED, Byju's got 28,000 crore in foreign direct investment (FDI) between 2011 and 2023. It further stated that throughout the time, the corporation sent roughly 9,754 crore to various foreign jurisdictions in the guise of overseas direct investment.

5.     Layoffs:

Byju's has laid off the highest number of employees of any Ed tech company, with over 5000 people.  It continued to lay off employees as part of their cost-cutting strategies. The Ed-tech firm recently had to lay off around 1,000 staff. It had previously gone through two rounds of layoffs in the previous year, resulting in over 3,000 job losses. A laid-off employee said on LinkedIn that he used to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but that he was asked to resign immediately by the company's Human Resources department. Several more former employees shared similar accounts of being dismissed and urged to quit on social media applications. These layoffs affected everyone, from sales and marketing to non-sales staff and top management. Furthermore, BYJU's illness spread to its acquisitions, with Whitehat Jr. staff being encouraged to voluntarily retire themselves.

 

Both Byju and Raveendran have denied any misconduct. However, their story, which was cobbled together from interviews with more than a dozen people engaged in the firm's operations, provides insight into the obstacles that India's Startups are facing. The majority of startups in India are in trouble and are not profitable. One of the explanations might be overvaluation of such enterprises in their early stages. So realistic valuation can help with such crisis of Indian startups.

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